Art at Heart: An Art-Filled Real-Estate Office Overhaul
Real-estate marketing guru Bob Rennie is known in Vancouver, British Columbia, as the Condo King. “Seems like he’s on every page of the newspaper,” Michelle Biggar of McFarlane Green Biggar Architecture + Design says. But while his business is property, his passion is art. And he made room for both when he moved his headquarters into two brick buildings in the local Chinatown. They now house not only Rennie Marketing Systems and its subsidiary, Rennie and Associates Realty, but also the Rennie Collection at Wing Sang, open by appointment to the public two days a week.
The 25,000-square-foot overhaul began with Walter Francl Architecture, which tackled structural preservation and programmed new uses. Roofing in an alley between the two buildings transformed it into what Rennie calls a “slot gallery.” Demolition created a much larger quadruple height-gallery as well as yielding Douglas fir floorboards, columns, and beams for repurposing.
When Biggar’s firm joined the project, she explains, “We didn’t do anything too glitzy—we let the architecture shine.” The columns and beams reappear as a desk and cabinetry in reception and a massive refectory table in the kitchen. Knitting the scheme together, her spectacular cantilevered steel stairway ascends five stories between a supporting wall of board-formed concrete and a wall of clear glass.
The stair terminates at a sculpture garden on the roof. This “gallery” and the six inside opened with a temporary exhibition featuring sculpture and installations by Mona Hatoum and are now showing paintings by Richard Jackson. Rows of framed photographs hang in reception: Rennie commissioned them to document the renovation.
Photography by Nic Lehoux.
ZUMTOBEL: TRACK LIGHTING (GALLERY).
SELUX: LINEAR FIXTURES (RECEPTION, GALLERY).
HERMAN MILLER: CHAIRS (RECEPTION, KITCHEN).
METAL & WOOD PRODUCTS: CUSTOM HANDRAIL (STAIRWELL).
DASAL INDUSTRIES: RECESSED CEILING FIXTURES.
MP LIGHTING: STEP LIGHTS.
CLOVERDALE PAINT: PAINT.
CREATIVE FLOORING SOLUTIONS: WOOD FLOORING.
BENJAMIN MOORE & CO.: PAINT.
JM ENGINEERING: STRUCTURAL ENGINEER.
IMEC MECHANICAL: MECHANICAL ENGINEER.
CANTECH ELECTRICAL: ELECTRICAL ENGINEER.
GARABALDI GLASS: GLASSWORK.
ÛRTHWÛRKS FURNITURE: WOODWORK.
DCUBE CONSTRUCTION; WALLACE & COMPANY CONSTRUCTION: GENERAL CONTACTORS.